The Beach House
Chickadee-dee-dee. The little bird is chirping outside my window. It is morning. The pale gray morning light weaves itself through the blinds and into the room. The summer breeze sweeps through small cracks in the walls; walls where white plaster crumbles with a faint touch of a finger. This is my summer home.
I have not been here for five years.
I stretch, my hands reach out to touch the smooth texture of the wooden bedposts that are dangerously close to the plaster drooping from the walls; my toes curl and dig into the soft bed—cat-like. The heavy covers fold away as I throw myself out of the bed and stumble across a floor coated in a thick layer of dirt that I can feel rise up my legs.I look into the mirror. My eyes open wide, focusing on the mark on my face. The dagger shaped scar is still there; I can feel it cutting across my right cheek. It screams at me to do something, to make it better. I slump against the dresser, my head between my hands. A tear slowly rolls down my face until a soft pitter-patter rains onto the flat surface. Other smaller cuts on my skin sting; the salty tears make it worse.
A soft knock at the door makes me lift my head. A blurry silhouette appears in the doorway. My mother is there.
“Autumn, three minutes.” No. Not today. I don’t move. I can hear my mother becoming impatient; her foot starts to tap against the wood floor.
“Autumn, the Smiths will be here soon. Please get ready to meet them.” Her voice grows louder as I still refuse to budge. Silence. I can hear the clock in the background. Tick tock. A sudden breath catches my attention, footsteps move and the door slams. Thump. Then it is silent once again.
Thirty minutes pass and I find myself downstairs, waiting. Nervous, I smooth down the faint wrinkles on my newly washed dress shirt. I glance at my mother beside me; her hand is twitching at the faintest sound. She must be nervous as well.
Ding Dong. The doorbell rings. I plaster a smile onto my face as my mother goes to open the door. An old couple appears at the entrance. My mother gestures for them to enter. I watch carefully as they examine the house from top to bottom, noting to each other the cracks in the walls and the dust collected in the corners of the rooms. The old couple smiles to each other ever so often.
Are they going to buy the house? My heart speeds up at the thought. It was my mother’s choice to sell our summer home, never mine. Apparently, there is no use for it anymore. For her, nothing is useful anymore, ever since my father…
“Autumn!” I shake myself out of my thoughts. My mother is calling for me.
“…Can you?” Huh? Can I what? The old couple comes up to me. “Wonderful!” They beam happily. I nod politely. A minute passes as I stand there waiting. My mother enters the room.
“Autumn? Can you leave us for a while? I need to discuss something with Mr. and Mrs. Smith.” My mother looks at me, her face serious. Oh. Ok. I nod politely to the couple again.
I leave the room. My hands trembling, I open the door to the old back porch that is still strong after many years. It leads outside. I can hear that the beach is close by; the sound of the faint clash of the waves against large boulders gives it away. I make my way down, grains of sand running through my toes. The lapping of the water grows closer as my sandals become heavier and heavier. Clomp, clomp, clomp.
I slip my feet into the cool shallow water and lay down in the sand. Above, the sky is clear and the sun shines down onto the beach, warming it with its rays. The light of the sun so bright blinds me and forces me to close my eyes. I take a deep breath. The fresh air outside is a nice change to the old dusty house.
Closing my eyes, I can hear the waves clashing in the background, and then, I hear my father calling for me. “Autumn…”
My father was the peacekeeper in our household. Since my mother and I were too opposite in personality, we often quarreled on simple issues until my father had to break the fight up. Although we were opposite in personality, my mother and I were very similar physically. I have my mother’s eyes, her nose, and her mouth, almost everything except for the hair. I have my father’s light brown hair.
My father was also an artist. During the summer, when we would come to our summer home, he would go down to the beach to draw. He would draw the waves, the sand, and the rocks. The summer home and the beach were his favorite place to be. It had everything he could have wished for as an artist.
I have always wanted to be like him, an artist. My father had taught me from the basics, to the advanced, and eventually everything he had learned in art. He would teach me his knowledge in daily lessons. My father inspired me to become an artist one day as well. That is, until the incident.
It was the time to go back to the city. Summer was nearly over and we had to leave our summer home. On the way back to the city, we were involved in a car crash. Our car seemed to be made out of aluminum as it crumpled into a heap on the ground. My mother was the first one out; she did not get hurt. I remember my mother screaming at me to get out, but I could not. I was stuck. The smell of burnt rubber was thick in the air. Then came the smell of blood. My blood. Shards of glass lodged itself into places in my skin. One shard cut itself deep into my right cheek. The world around me spun. I was lucky I survived. My father wasn’t as fortunate as I was; he did not make it out. He was stuck underneath.
After the accident, I lost the ability to draw. The world was dull with no color.
My mother and I have grown closer since then.
We have not come back to the summer home until now.
“Autumn! Where are you? The Smiths are gone!” I can hear my mother shouting for me across the warm beach. An hour or two must have gone by.
On the beach, a wave is coming in. The water drifts back and forth across the wet sand. I hear my dad’s voice, excited. “ Look Autumn! A baby turtle! Over there! Do you see the purple seashell?”
Then I see him, dancing with his bare feet in the sand and waving a paintbrush in the air. His eyes shine with happiness, smiling at me.
“Autumn!” My mother is calling. I run toward her, back to the house. I pass her and hop down the stairs into the basement. There, I dig out the remainder of my dad’s art supplies—his canvas and the tubes of paint.
I start to paint. Carefully, I lay out the brighter colors onto my palette. Sky blue on the right, zinc white on the left, and lemon yellow right in the middle, just above my thumb. I start with the sky. I coat the canvas with thin layers of blue paint, adding in some white for streaks of clouds, yellow for sunlight. An hour later, I finish. Before me is a picture of the beach. Dad’s light brown hair waves in the wind.
It is perfect.
I can hear the soft breathing of my mother as she stands next to me. I can sense the happiness radiating off of her.
I can finally draw again.
“Mom?” I turn to look at her.
“Yes dear?” She puts a hand on my shoulder.
I pause for a moment. “I saw dad at the beach.” My mother smiles without saying a word. I smile too. Then, taking a deep breath I ask her one question that has been on my mind the entire day.
“Will we sell this house?” I held my breath. She looks thoughtful for a minute. She doesn’t reply. Then, I continue talking.
“ Can we keep it instead, for dad?” I wait as minutes go by. She finally looks at me and nods. Whispering, she replies.
“ Yes we can.”